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Prompt water monitoring and quality control are essential for public health protection and risk regulation. Consequently, the rapid, specific and sensitive detection of microbial indicators and waterborne pathogens represent a key challenge in modern water quality monitoring. In the last years the application of monitoring concepts and technologies was expedited at the TZW as well as at the CSIRO. Both the Australian and German collaborators have developed new methods in these specific areas, which enables deep collaboration and exchange possibilities with great benefits and synergistic effects.

Overarching objectives of the German-Australian collaboration are to optimize and extent monitoring methods of water quality:

  • PCR detection of hygienically relevant microorganisms in different waters
  • Microbial Source Tracking with culture-independent methods
  • Detection of relevant antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes
  • Improved methodology for the concentration and detection of viruses from water environments
  • PCR-based live-dead differentiation
  • Application of microarray technology in water monitoring
  • Elimination of hygienic relevant microorganisms during ground water recharge and wastewater reuse


gabi Partners

Australian Partners
Dr. Simon Toze
Simon Toze
CSIRO Land and Water
Simon Toze obtained his PhD in Environmental Microbiology from the University of Queensland in 1992 and has been working with CSIRO since 1994 on a range of water based topics. He is also an honorary Associate Professor with the UQ School of Population Health.
He has a range of research interests which include studying the fate and behaviour of microbial pathogens in the environment; the influence of groundwater microorganisms on the biogeochemistry of aquifers; and the development of rapid and accurate molecular based methods for the tracking, detection and enumeration of viable microbial pathogens in environmental water samples.

Dr. Jatinder Sidhu
Jatinder Sidu
CSIRO Land and Water

German Partners
Prof. Andreas Thiem, TZW Karlsruhe
Prof. Dr. Andreas Tiehm
TZW | Technologiezentrum Wasser
Prof. A. Tiehm, the head of the department Microbiology and Molecular Biology at TZW with experience of health related environmental microbiology and wide knowledge of water diagnostic. He is leader of international research projects and a leading expert for detection of different bacteria and bacterial groups in water, microbiological detection of antibiotic resistance bacteria and application of molecular biological techniques for the evidence of antibiotic resistance genes in water. Furthermore, he has extensive experiences with the elimination of chemical substances and microbial degradation.

Dr. Johannes Ho
Johannes Ho
TZW | Technologiezentrum Wasser
Johannes Ho obtained his PhD in molecular biology and focused on ecology, evolution and bioinformatics at his Master of Science. He is working on the development of modern detection methods for waterborne viruses and bacteria at TZW since 2010. His current research is focused on molecular detection via qPCR, flow cytometry, live/dead differentation and the concentration of large water volumes.

Claudia Stange
Claudia Stange
TZW | Technologiezentrum Wasser
Claudia Stange graduated with diploma in engineering (main field: biotechnology) at the University of Applied Sciences Mannheim, Germany, in 2005. Since that time she works in the department of environmental biotechnology at the TZW as project scientist. She is particularly experienced in the application of molecular biological analysis of microorganisms (e.g. pathogenic and indicator) organisms), antibiotic resistance genes and Microbial Source Tracking markers.

Lab | Equipment

Molecular Biology
Lab for the concentration, extraction and detection of bacteria, viruses and functional genes for antibiotic resistances microbial degradation of various contaminants. Organisms are concentrated and their DNA and RNA is extracted with chemical or physical treatment and purified for post applications. Several approaches are available for quantification of specific DNA or RNA sequences following quality controll and deeper analysis.

Pre PCR preparation
  • high volume ultrafiltration
  • membrane filter device for size or charge based concentration
  • automated DNA/RNA extraction
  • automated sample homogenizer
molecular detection
  • real time PCR systems
  • digital droplet PCR
  • gradient PCR
  • end point PCR
  • automated pipetting systems
  • PCR workstations
post PCR
  • automated capilary electrophoresis system
  • classical electrophoresis
  • DGGE (Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis)
  • freeze-dryer
  • vaccum centrifuge
Lab for cultivation techniques around indicator bacteria and health related organisms like antibiotic resistant bacteria, bacteriophages and legionella. Additional analytical methods like AOC (assimilable organic carbon) or MALDI-TOF-MS can give a deeper view in bacterial communities.

  • classic cultivation methods (indicators, hygiene relevant bacteria, antibiotic resistant bacteria)
  • viral plaque assay
  • flow cytometer and cell sorter
  • fluorescence microscope
  • binoculare stereomicroscope
  • AOC-Systems (Assimilable organic carbon)


The GAbi project is one of 27 projects funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the frame of the APRA program to establish joint research centres with partners in the Asia-Pacific Research Area (APRA).

News & Events

March 2018 GAbi Workshop - Workshop at CSIRO with speakers from science and industry
The first GAbi workshop focused on recent progress in water science, research needs, and opportunities for joint German-Australian studies. Beside presenters from CSIRO and TZW, speakers from the Australian waterworks, the University of Queensland and the Global Water Research Coalition (GWRC) gave an overview of current research needs. Therefore the workshop could cover broad topics from local to global interest. Additionally, detailed talks were hold focusing Microbial Source Tracking, detection methodologies, antibiotic resistances and issues with indicators. Finally, in a round table discussion, details of the future partnership and cooperation with universities were discussed. At this point we like to thank everyone for a very successful workshop, fruitful discussions and the cooperation.

Topics and speakers of the GAbi Workshop

GAbi PartnershipWelcome, Acknowledgement of Country, Introduction, HousekeepingSimon Toze, CSIRO
GABI Project – Inception and intentAndreas Tiehm, German Water Technology Center (TZW)
CSIRO Partnership – Engagement and purposeSimon Toze, CSIRO
Research NeedsLocalGreg Jackson, Brisbane Waterworks
EuropeAndreas Tiehm, TZW
South PacificPaul Jagals, University of Queensland
GlobalStephanie Rinck-Pfeiffer, Global Water Research Coalition
Research ToolsMicrobial Source TrackingWarish Ahmed, CSIRO
Detection methodologiesJohannes Ho, TZW
Antibiotic ResistancesClaudia Stange, TZW
Issues with indicatorsJatinder Sidhu, CSIRO

February - Mai 2018 Scientific exchange

Hygienic quality at bathing beaches
Five sites including bathing beaches were sampled in a dry period in the area around Brisbane. Multiple samples had already been taken by CSIRO staff in the previous wet season. Two liters of samples were each taken to the CSIRO lab and prepared for downstream analysis:

Human pathogen Viruses
Samples were concentrated using a multi-step ultrafiltration from one liter to 3 milliliters. After extraction of RNA and DNA, samples were prepared for the detection of viruses in Germany. Target organisms are human pathogenic viruses like norovirus or enteroviruses. The analysis will help understanding the distribution of RNA-Viruses in surface water during dry and wet periods.

Antibiotic resistance and indicator organisms
Due to the widespread use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine resistances have spread in the environment during the last few years. However, knowledge with respect to antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in raw water used for drinking water production is limited. To help understanding the distribution of antibiotic resistant bacteria at public beaches, selective agar plates were used to prove the presence of Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE), Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing coliform bacteria. Because of their possibility to cause severe infections, these three types of antibiotic resistant bacteria are highly hygienically relevant.

Training: Analysis of microarray data
Microarrays are a promissing tool to reveal the pathogenic potential of microbial communities. Highly parallel microarrays provide a culture-independent method that permits over 100.000 of assays to detect target genes – e.g. involved in antibiotic resistance - in a single run. Beside the preparation of nucleic acids for the analysis, the complex result data structure has to be analyzed and interpreted. During the scientific exchange, TZW researchers were trained in a data processing pipeline including analytical tools. In conclusion, current microarray data could be analyzed and displayed constructively to give information about antibiotic resistance and pathogen profiles.

November 2017 - February 2018 Preparation of CSIRO/TZW visit
The upcoming meeting of CSIRO and TZW in March 2018 is planned in frequent video conferences. The current scientific program includes field studies in the area around Brisbane, Lab analysis of antibiotic resistant bacteria and RNA viruses as well as a deep knowledge exchange focusing microarray technology.

02 October 2017 Kick-off workshop of the project in Brisbane
Exchange of information about running and planned projects Reports about the progress in the molecular analysis of water Planning of the joint work.


Joint publicationsCSIRO publicationsTZW publications

Stange C.,Sidhu J.P.S.,Tiehm A.,Toze S.:
Antibiotic resistance and virulence genes in coliform water isolates.
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 219: 823-831 (2016)

Schmidt N., Page D., Tiehm A.:
Biodegradation of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors with oxygen, nitrate, menganes(IV), iron(III) and sulfate as electron acceptors.
Journal of Contaminant Hydrology: 203: 62-69 (2017)

Otto J., Sidhu J., Toze S., Tiehm A:
Comparing methods for virus and bacteria concentration from different water sources.
In: 17th International Symposium on Health Related Water Microbiology, IWA WaterMicro 2013, Florianopolis, Brazil, 15-20 September 2013, Proceedings: 2 pages (2013)

Tiehm A., Sidhu J., Toze S., Stoll C.:
Antibiotic resistance genes and virulence genes in surface water samples from Germany and Australia.
In: 17th International Symposium on Health Related Water Microbiology, IWA WaterMicro 2013, Florianopolis, Brazil, 15-20 September 2013, Proceedings: 3 pages (2013)

Stoll C., Sidhu J.P.S., Tiehm A., Toze S.:
Prevalence of clinically relevant antibiotic resistance genes in surface water samples collected from Germany and Australia.
Environmental Science & Technology 46: 9716-9726 (2012)


Aktueller Flyer des GAbi-Projektes.

Projektblatt für Projekte des BMBF-Förderprogramms zur Etablierung gemeinsamer Forschungspräsenzen mit Partnern im Asiatisch-Pazifischen Forschungsraum (APRA)

gabi - a german australian joint cooperation for water-biology. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.    Imprint    Data Protection Statement DVGW E.V.

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